It is hard to believe that our 15 day road trip around New Zealand’s south island has come to an end. The trip took us from Christchurch all the way north towards Abel Tasman National Park, passing through the pretty towns of Kaikoura and Picton, down the west coast towards Franz Josef, inland towards Queenstown and then out again to Milford South, then crossing the island to Dunedin and back again to Christchurch. In 15 days, Paul drove more than 2600 kilometers.
We decided to make Lake Tekapo our last stop before returning to Christchurch and this turned out to be one of my favourites! The lake is located 2300 ft above sea level and the town is a World Heritage “Dark Sky Reserve” with strict laws controlling light pollution in the area. To celebrate our last night in the south island, Paul and I signed up for a star gazing tour at the Mount John Observatory where we not only saw shooting stars, but also the Magellan Clouds which are distant galaxies about 163,000 light-years away. They are the only objects we can see with the naked eye that are outside of the Milky Way. We also got to look at Venus, Jupiter, and the Tarantula Nebula using the observatory’s super telescopes.
Although the south island was gorgeous and I thoroughly enjoyed our road trip, I was happy to leave our campervan behind. No more sleeping in a car, no more killing mosquitoes and sandflies, and no more looking for showers and free (and sometimes illegal) places to park and sleep. Up next, we will be spending approximately 5 days in the north island to explore Rotorua, Tongariro National Park, and of course, Hobbiton!!